As cryptocurrencies have grown in popularity and valuation, both parodies and obvious schemes have cropped up with occasionally little distinction. But nothing up until now has prepared you for SCAM, or Simple Cool Automatic Money, the wild creation of a TikToker who goes by Dre and is very open about having no clue what he’s doing as the founder of a new cryptocurrency with a $2.5 million market cap.
“I don't know how to do none of this shit, I just made the coin as a joke,” Dre, real name Andre Lewis, said in one of his many TikToks promoting SCAM while simultaneously ripping into other, more “serious” cryptocurrencies and relishing in the ridiculousness of his own creation that, for one reason or another, some people have actually invested in.
“I’m a regular motherfucker that just so happened to make a coin and now I’ve got to make this bitch useful to the world,” Dre said in another video, this time on Twitter. “This is the FUBU of crypto, for me by me, goddamn, this is the FUBU of motherfuckin’ crypto, this was for me, but now that y’all bought it, it’s for us by us.”
Dre said in an interview that he created SCAM to poke fun at other “shitcoins” or cryptocurrencies that are clearly pump-and-dump schemes, but at the same time make some money for people willing to put money behind it without any lofty talk to convince people anything more noble is going on. In doing so, SCAM is speedrunning the path of many cryptocurrencies: It hit a $70 million market cap (the snapshot current value of all tokens in circulation) almost immediately after launching, then slumped to $7 million, then $5 million, and now sits at $2.5 million.
"When motherfuckers made ASS, that was the last straw for me, though,” Dre told Motherboard in an interview. “Real talk, these people were just being assholes, so I said fuck it, how are people deploying these coins? I looked it up, looked at the Ethereum, at BSC, at Pancakeswap―I don’t have a fancy computer, so ETH was out of the window. BSC though, that shit was simple, so I just fucked around and made a coin.”
Launching a new cryptocurrency these days can be as easy as pressing a few buttons on a website and paying a modest fee to cover network costs, or otherwise copying and pasting some code with a few tweaks. Indeed, there’s been a proliferation of new tokens recently, all trying to go viral in order to reach a critical mass of investors to make a bit of money: Pisscoin, Dogemoon, Moonstar, SafeMoon… you get the picture. Typically, they run on Binance Smart Chain (BSC) rather than Ethereum because it’s much cheaper, and this is where Dre turned SCAM into a token.
SCAM has seen its ups and downs over the past week, to say the least, and now sits at a market cap of more than $2.5 million with upwards of 1,600 addresses holding. Dre said that it only cost him a few hundred dollars to create SCAM.
“I named it SCAM. I wanted to call it SCAM just blatantly, but I wanted a cool name for it, so I came up with Simple Cool Automatic Money,” Dre told Motherboard. “That's how people fall into scams in the first place, that's what they think they are. So I named it, minted it for about $400 or .7 BNB at the time, minted 10 trillion coins, and told some people about it.”
Dre said that all of this started as a joke―a “middle finger” to coins that pretend to be a great innovation that would usher in the future but are really just ways for speculators to exploit people desperate to get rich quick. It’s in a long tradition of parodies that turn out to be kind of serious, like Dogecoin, which began as a joke built around a puppy meme but today enjoys billions of dollars worth of trading volume each day and has a market cap just shy of $41 billion. Or take Garlicoin, a clear parody when it was born within the pages of a satirical business meme magazine called Meme Insider in 2018, but which cleared a $16 million market cap in April before sinking back down.
“Today you have a whole bunch of speculation in crypto, in NFTs, in Bitcoin, this coin, that coin. It's a bunch of speculation, and people are just using it to their advantage,” he told Motherboard. “People don't invest in coins based on utility; they invest because it'll be listed on Coin Gecko or Coin Market Cap or Coinbase. They invest based on the news, not what the token can accomplish.”
And in a turn of events worthy of a curling monkey’s paw, people did invest in SCAM. In a TikTok video announcing the coin, Dre displayed a market tracker showing that SCAM’s market cap had already reached $70 million soon after launch. “When I saw that $70 million market cap, I got scared because I made this coin but it had no use,” he told Motherboard. “I talked too much shit on the internet about useless-ass coins for mine to be useless.”
Dre said that a community (the “scamily”) sprang up around the coin and that these people pumped out memes and materials, and even made a flashy website themselves. There’s an active Discord channel dedicated to SCAM with more than 2,000 members. Amazingly, Dre claims he did not know these people beforehand. "The original SCAM website that popped up, they did it that night," Dre told Motherboard. "Now we've got a more polished one that I'm working on with a team on this Scamily.io one. But things have been moving so fast, it's hard to believe."
Dre said that all the attention began to turn into harassment once the coin’s price began, inevitably, to fluctuate.
"At one point, I started getting calls from relatives because motherfuckers tried to doxx me and harass my family. I made this as a joke. No one told you to buy this shit—it's called SCAM, you stupid motherfucker,” Dre told Motherboard. “I went on Twitter to say I'm not taking disrespect from motherfuckers with no anime pictures and no 8-bit fucking profile pictures because the coin tanked at some point. I didn't do anything, I didn't tell anyone to buy anything.”
Now that the joke has some money behind it, Dre claims he’s been thinking about ways he can make something useful with the SCAM coin that’ll continue to pump the value but also teach people how to make their own cryptocurrencies or learn how to perform audits of other coins before investing. Part of that is “burning” token supply, which means sending tokens to a dead-end address where they’re unusable forever, theoretically driving up the price of the remaining tokens. This is a very common feature of tokens created on BSC, which use various programmable tricks to try and increase a token’s value. To date, 9,958,976,747,79 out of a total 10,000,000,000,000 SCAM have been sent to the address “0x000000000000000000000000000000000000dead.”
“I'm brand new to the space, but I am inspired by the people who said they believe in me. People I don't know put solid cheese in this, that's a lot knowing they believe in me," he said.
Now, it’s safe to say that the project is in a weird spot. Its value is tanking as it simultaneously tries to be taken more seriously: The scamily.io website now features a roadmap of future plans, for example. Dre has also made overtures to convince buyers that SCAM is actually not really a scam, in the sense that the creator (Dre) will one day run off with a hoard of valuable tokens and abandon the project. In several videos, he claims he will not pull off a so-called “rug pull” (he claimed in one video that he doesn’t even know how to sell tokens), and the idea that the main person behind SCAM supposedly can’t or won’t burn investors is touted as a selling point. It’s worth noting here that a breakdown of the project’s token ownership was added to the website, and it notes that Dre holds nearly 10 percent of all SCAM tokens.
On the one hand, Dre’s mission is understandable, as cryptocurrencies are being driven by bubble after bubble that are redirecting billions of dollars into fictitious corners of the economy. At this moment, most if not all of them are best used for: (1) speculating, (2) money laundering or illicit payments, or (3) trades in certain digital marketplaces. At the same time, it’s not clear why we need any more coins right now, even if they did have some utility.
Indeed, critics have pointed to the environmental footprint of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin that use proof-of-work mining, which consumes a ton of electricity―more than the Netherlands, annually―and is powered by fossil fuels as well as renewables (really, whatever is cheapest and readily available). It also funnels profit into fossil fuel companies that have integrated Bitcoin mining facilities as a way to make waste gas useful rather than burn it off. Ethereum, the blockchain that hosts most NFTs, has the same problem.
BSC, the blockchain that SCAM runs on, however, uses a different approach that sidesteps some of these issues. Instead of computers all over the world crunching hard to validate the next block, aspiring miners “stake” some of their Binance tokens in order to be chosen as a validator by an algorithm and receive transaction fees in return. A shift to this proof-of-stake-based approach has been vaunted by many Ethereum defenders as being a way to cut down significantly on the network’s hunger for energy.
Maybe, as Dre hopes, SCAM will make some more people some more money as part of the general speculative bubble. Maybe it will provide some educational tools or auditing tools to provide utility within cryptoworld. At the end of the day, however, this is all taking place in a bubble that is baking the whole world trapped inside―unless the bubble bursts first. And, in this environment, perhaps SCAM is the asset we deserve.